×
INTELLIGENT WORK FORUMS
FOR ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALS

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!
  • Students Click Here

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

CAD Software Alternatives
3

CAD Software Alternatives

CAD Software Alternatives

(OP)
I am very familiar with Siemens NX, Solidworks, and PTC Creo, as I use these daily at work. I have a number of projects at home though that I would like to find a comparable 2D/3D parametric CAD tool for. Can you recommend any inexpensive alternatives to these? I've dabbled a bit in SolidFace and FreeCAD, but have not found them to be quite as intuitive as those I've mentioned above.

Aside from part design, it would be beneficial to find some software that I could run my own thermal/fluid/vibration simulations with. I am familiar with FloTHERM and a few of the Ansys utilities, but wasn't sure of any home-use alternatives.

Thank you!

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

IR Stuff: I'm not familiar with PTC Crea... How do you recommend getting started with that software if I have a good AutoCAD 2D and 3D background? (Old experience now though, i started in Acad in R4, R7....)

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

(OP)


Quote (IRstuff)

There is a free version of PTC Creo that's limited to 60 unique parts...

I'll give the Creo Elements a try and see how it stacks up against what I'm used to - I appreciate the suggestion.

Quote (racookpe1978)

I'm not familiar with PTC Crea... How do you recommend getting started with that software if I have a good AutoCAD 2D and 3D background? (Old experience now though, i started in Acad in R4, R7....)

Racookpe1978, some programs like Solidworks have an excellent, built-in set of tutorials and sample parts to play and gain experience with. I've found through my search for a free/inexpensive tool that one of the most valuable resources is the video tutorials that can be found on Youtube. Many of the tutorials are provided in a series by the vendor as a means of exposing potential customers to their products and showcasing its capabilities.

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

mjjmecheng

There are free educational/non-comercial/home versions of all the programs in your list. Solid Edge also has a couple of good free or cheap options.

CAE linux has a bundle of free open source FAE and flow packages.

racookpe1978
Download the free version and give it a try. There are tutorials in the help file to get you started.

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

I'd check out Autodesk's options, mainly Fusion 360.
But, anything in their 123D-series is free and may be good enough for your home-use requirements.

--Scott
www.wertel.pro

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

(OP)

Quote (swertel)

I'd check out Autodesk's options, mainly Fusion 360.
But, anything in their 123D-series is free and may be good enough for your home-use requirements.

Swertel, I had no idea that Autodesk was doing this 123D suite. The 123D circuits looks like a good little program for me to play around with as it looks dumbed down enough for an ME to build EE stuff...

To keep the topic going, I came across an article that mentioned a SolidWorks "Home Use License". Although I've lost the link to it, it sounds like it is a method by which an employee of a business that has a SolidWorks network license can get a personal license to install/run the software from a home PC... I'll have to ask the IT guys if this is a possibility.

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

Quote (mjjmecheng)

...

To keep the topic going, I came across an article that mentioned a SolidWorks "Home Use License".
...

There have been discussions on here about moonlighting, and about who owns the stuff you design, regardless of where you designed it. What sort of contract did you sign with your employer?

If I am designing something nifty at home, I want to use software I purchased, or otherwise legitimately acquired on my own. If I use software licensed by my current employer, they have a claim to my intellectual property.

--
JHG

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

One of the best alternatives to mainstream solid modeling packages used to be Alibre Design. I've used it extensively and found it comparable to SolidWorks at the time. And a good value, too (about 25% of SW). I just went a-surfing and discovered that Alibre was purchased by Geomagic and renamed Geomagic Design.

I have no idea what is the selling price now. But if it is anything like it used to be then it is worth a look.

TygerDawg
Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering
www.bluetechnik.com

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

Geomagic Design has not added any design functionality in the last 2 years. They have added functionality to correlate with Geomagic's 3D scanning and printing tools. And, they raised the price of Geomagic Design so it is now in the several thousand dollars range plus maintenance.

While Alibre Design was a good bang-for-the-buck CAD package, Geomagic Design has the same amount of bang but costs a lot more bucks. I'd look into renting Solid Edge on a monthly basis (fyi if you rent for 3 years straight you're better off buying a perpetual license) or some other cloud-based tool.

--Scott
www.wertel.pro

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

(OP)

Quote (drawoh)

There have been discussions on here about moonlighting, and about who owns the stuff you design, regardless of where you designed it. What sort of contract did you sign with your employer?

Good point drawoh... The kinds of designs I have in mind are home-use things like motorcycle parts and my own 3D printer/CNC machines. Luckily, these are not things of interest for my company as they already own my other IP ...

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

mjjmecheng,

The line between stuff you design that you company owns and stuff you design that you own, can get fuzzy. This is especially true of you leave your place of employment to start a business. Anything you ca do to make things not fuzzy is good. Definitely this includes running your own CAD software on your own computers on your own time at home.

--
JHG

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

Note that the free version of PTC Creo that accommodates as many as 60 unique parts is not a parametric program.

Tunalover

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

Hi

Look at this:
http://www.tflex.com/
It has same math core as NX.

br

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

mjjmecheng Bobslo
Looking for a price on T-flex the sellers seem to be very coy about telling you what it is. I finally found an article by deelip with a price in it. The Alibre/ Geomagic program is now $1900 still a better price than T-Flex , but no longer low cost. Scott Wertel is the guy who started the Alibre/ Geomagic forum on this web page, and it is very telling that he is recommending Acad.123.
B.E.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

(OP)
That'd good to know!

A few other programs that I've come across are BobCAD/CAM and Rhino. Rhino seems to be in the ~$900 range from what I recall and BobCAD/CAM is nearer the $1500 price. Although Rhino has an easily accessed demo to download, I have not played around with it or BobCAD too long.

My first impression of BobCAD is that it is based very strongly around the fabrication of the component (mill/lathe/sheet-metal operations) while it lacks a little in the intuitiveness of its design capabilities. Rhino, in my opinion, is similar to the PTC Creo demo that was recommended above. Don't take these opinions to heart though because they are only based on a few hours of experimenting.

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

mjjmecheng,

I was running back through some of the earlier posts and caught a hint at something else (that will hopefully not drive this thread off topic).

If you are an ME looking to do a few EE designs at home, I recommend also take a look at https://www.circuitlab.com/editor/
While Autodesk did acquire Circuits.io and is a "higher end" electrical schematic/design tool, the Circuitlab editor may be fun enough.

--Scott
www.wertel.pro

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

Another program worth a look is IronCAD. I've only heard of it. Never used it.

Tunalover

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

You mentioned FreeCAD, which seems to be developing quite well into a usable free and open source CAD tool. That said, it's not nearly as capable as the commercial options.

As far as simulation goes, look into CalculiX. I've been playing around with it and it seems to be quite capable. Tetrahedral meshes can be created with software like NetGen or GMsh, and you can do a wide array of simulations (structural models, flow networks, contact analysis, creep analysis, thermal analysis, etc.).

OpenFoam also seems to be a fairly capable CFD tool, although I admittedly haven't used it.

All of those analysis programs have a learning curve, but they also seem to be quite capable.

RE: CAD Software Alternatives

(OP)
@ Flash3780,

Just curious if you happen to know the accuracy of some of these models. Not that it likely matters for some of the home design projects I have in mind, but it might come into play if it was used for any stringent analysis. I ask because I use both FloTHERM and Ansys Icepak at work and have found some are better than others for different tasks - much like the rest of this software. For instance, we've done some fluid analysis using both of the mentioned suites and it appears that Icepak, though a bit more cumbersome GUI, tends to have algorithms that more closely match test results of physical prototypes. On the other hand, we've found that FloTHERM is typically the better choice for doing circuit card or assembly thermal (steady-state and transient) analysis.

Like I mentioned, a 5~10% error is not a huge deal when it comes to analyzing things for home projects, but I'd be curious to know if anyone has had experience validating the results.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Resources


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close